Read how — when the real driver of the car that killed a bicyclist on SE Foster Road refuses to take responsibility — police arrest them both‚

A 58-year-old bicyclist’s life ended here, in the 11500 block of SE Foster Road on May 4. Two women who police say were both in the car that struck the cyclist each claim the other was driving.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

They’re both continue playing a game of “she did it”.

Police say one of two 28-year-old outer SE Portland women is responsible for ending the life of 58-year-old Jerry Alvin Hinatsu about 4:00 p.m. on May 5.

While they have their suspicions, authorities are still trying to determine for sure just who is responsible for the biker’s death.

When we arrive on scene, details of the accident are sketchy. The crumpled bicycle is near the driveway of the Franz Bakery Outlet Store. The victim lies nearby, his body covered with a yellow tarp.

A Portland Police East Precinct sergeant tells us there are few details.

As he talks, a patrol car drives past us, heading west, on SE Foster Road. A woman in the passenger’s seat is covering her face with her hands so we can’t photograph her. The patrol car disappears from view as it passes SE 111th Ave.

Officials say 28-year-old Sara Lance got out of the Honda after the accident; it then drove away, making it a hit-and-run felony. Officers now say they suspect Lance may actually have been the driver at the wheel when the cyclist was struck.

We ask why, if she is a witness, she’s hiding her face.

The sergeant says, “Right now, there’s a lot we don’t know about the case.”

The story unfolds
According to police reports, we learn cyclist Hinatsu is struck as he’s riding west, illegally pedaling the wrong way in the eastbound bike lane. He’s not wearing a helmet, either.

The 1991 Honda Accord that strikes and kills Hinatsu stops briefly, one individual gets out, and the car takes off.

“It may not have even been the driver’s fault at all,” comments Portland Police Bureau spokesperson Catherine Kent. “But when a driver leaves an accident scene, they’re committing a crime.”

Police say 28-year-old Cynthia Amaya may simply have been the passenger, at the time of the deadly accident; but she sped off after the impact, and someone ditched the car in Hillsboro.

“She did it”
Later, officials reveal 28-year-old SE Portland resident, Sara Ann Lance, got out of the Honda at the scene, before it fled. After intense questioning, she implicates her roommate, 28-year-old Cynthia Marie Amaya, as the driver at the time Hinatsu was struck down.

Police look for the Honda, hoping to find forensic evidence. It is later found in Hillsboro, abandoned.

Friday afternoon rush hour traffic backs up in every direction as police investigate the fatal accident on SE Foster Road.

“What we have are two women who are pointing the finger at each other,” Kent later explains.

On May 11, we check with Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division Lt. Mark Kruger for an update.

“Amaya and Lance are still both charged with Leaving the Scene of an Accident, Not Discharging the Duties of a Driver, Hindering Prosecution and Evidence Tampering in the case,” Kruger tells us. “Both women were lodged at Multnomah County Jail, but later released on their own recognizance while the investigation continues.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Subtly infused with popular music, this abbreviated adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic swirls with activity. See our exclusive photos of this show, which ends on May 12‚

In this modern adaptation of William Shakespeare’s 1595 play, Romeo Montague (Tyree Harris) and Juliet Capulet (Jacquelle Davis) endure a brief and troubled romance.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Parkrose High School Thespian Troupe 1783 brings to life William Shakespeare’s story concerning the fate of two young “star-cross’d lovers” in their current production, Romeo and Juliet.

The work, one of the most famous of Shakespeare’s plays, is considered to be the archetypal love story of all time; this version was adapted by the Parkrose High School theater instructor, Ms. Zena. Click HERE to read our full story about this production

Juliet asks Nurse (Mikki Boyt) to help her learn more about Romeo.

The hotheaded Tybalt Capulet (Austin Crumbley), the cousin of Juliet, lies mortally wounded in the arms of his mother, Lady Capulet (Meghan Hodge), after losing a sword fight to his rival, Romeo.

Music and movement accentuate dramatic effect
Zena’s terse editing of the multi-hour play makes this version move smartly along ‚Äì yet none of the emotion of this poignant tale is lost.

Unlike many modern adaptations, the actors speak their parts using Shakespeare’s language. “The difference is,” Zena says, “this adaptation ‘gets to the point’, so the scenes move along.”

From the opening moments, the stage comes alive, swirling with activity and intrigue, as Romeo first sees Juliet at a costume ball.

The soundtrack created by the troupe‚ featuring a variety of modern music‚ truly enhances the dramatic effect of the dialog.

Believing Juliet has poisoned herself, her father, Montague (Sterling Arkills), and Nurse prepare her for burial.

Juliet awakens from her sleeping potion in the family crypt, only to find her new husband, Romeo, has taken his life. Overcome with grief, she then follows him in death.

Limited seating available

Because of this unique seating arrangement, each performance will be limited to 150 audience members. Don’t miss out on “culture-made-fun”‚ call (503) 408-2621 to reserve your tickets today.

Romeo & Juliet
May 11 and 12

Tickets $5 for all patrons
7 p.m. curtain

“Black Box Theatre”
Parkrose High School
12003 NE Shaver Street (at NE 122nd Ave.)

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

Come to Midland Park’s 3rd Annual Plant Sale on May 20, and you’ll be buying one of the fine-quality native plants raised by these enterprising 4th Grade students‚

Ventura Park School fourth-grade students Shaina Grace, Jesse Cetz, Andrew Eblen and Tanya Pezchenko are just a few of Ronnda Stapleton’s students who raised and tended these plants for sale on May 20 at Midland Park.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
Walking into their greenhouse, we are amazed to see all the beautiful native Oregon plants raised and tended by students at Ventura Park School.

“The thirty students in my fourth-grade class have raised and cared for these plants,” explains their teacher, Ronnda Stapleton.

“This project helps our students learn to take ownership‚ to take care of‚ something that is not theirs,” explains Stapleton. “We will be selling these plants at the Midland Park Native Plant sale.”

The teacher said her students started working on this project in January. “The money they raise from the plant sale will go to support their Oregon Trail Trip. And, it will help us beautify our school’s courtyard.”

Native Plant Sale at Midland Park is May 20
The Jane’s Park Group is bringing in top quality native plants, we learn from volunteer Linda Robinson. “Some were purchased bare root, then nurtured; some were dug up from volunteers’ yards, and a few were donated by the Portland Parks Bureau.”

Robinson adds that informational displays and literature will be available about native plants, naturescaping, urban wildlife habitat and more. “The sale helps raise funds for events at the park, including completion of the new butterfly garden,” says Robinson.

The sale runs on Sunday, May 20 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm at Midland Park — just behind Midland Library, 805 S.E. 122nd Ave.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

It’s Fun-O-Rama time again in Gateway! Get ACCURATE information about the May 19 parade and community fair right here‚

GABA board members show off their new street banner promoting the May 19 Gateway Fun-O-Rama.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Once again, it’s time for the Gateway Area Business Association (GABA) May frolic!

The GABA Golf-O-Rama is scheduled for May 12th at Glendoveer Golf Course.  Proceeds from this fun tournament‚ featuring players from the neighborhood and business, plus government dignitaries‚ helps fund college scholarships for local high school seniors.

It wouldn’t be a Fun-O-Rama Parade without the antics of the Gateway Keystone Kops. See them at the Fun-O-Rama Parade on May 19.

May 19 parade draws thousands
The Fun-O-Rama Parade attracts thousands of people, who line NE Halsey Street to view the procession of professional and home-made floats, custom and classic vehicles, clowns, marching groups and dignitaries, lovely Portland Rose Festival Princesses ‚Äì and the antics of Gateway’s own Keystone Kops.

On May 19, the Fun-O-Rama Parade will begin at 10:30 am.

This year, it starts further east than in past years, assembling at St. Therese Church (NE 132nd Ave. and Halsey Street).

It will travel west on NE Halsey Street. At the “split”, the parade travels westward on the eastbound side of Halsey, disbanding at NE 106th Ave.

Portland Police East Precinct Cadets help out at the Community Fair at 111th Square, by fitting and distributing bike helmets for kids.

Community Fair follows parade
On the same day as the parade, the Community Fair at 111th Square also takes place. It runs from noon until 3:30 pm at NE 111th & Halsey Street. This fair provides entertainment by singers, jugglers, martial artists, and even Ronald McDonald.

Gateway area businesses, neighborhoods and non-profit organizations get to show their wares and demonstrate their services to the community.

The association’s “Citizen of the Year” is given a Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office jacket. Receiving it, with his name embroidered on it, is Fred Sanchez.

Sanchez GABA’s ‘Citizen of the Year’
At the Community Fair each year, the association honors an individual as their “Citizen of the Year”. This year, relentless Gateway booster, Fred Sanchez will be saluted.

Leading up to his salutation, Multnomah County Sheriff Bernie Giusto awarded Fred Sanchez a Sheriff’s jacket, and commended him on his exemplary service, at last month’s association meeting.

“‘Exemplarily Service’ are the first two words of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Motto,” said the Giusto, as he helped Sanchez don his custom-embroidered green jacket emblazed with these words above Sanchez’ name.

Come meet the members
After the Fun-O-Rama, consider dropping by and meeting the members of the Gateway Area Business Association. They meet on the second Thursday of the month; networking starts at 11:30 am, typically at JJ North’s Buffet, 10520 NE Halsey Street.

Guests are always welcome, and reservations are NOT needed. To verify meeting time and date and location, and learn the guest speaker, be sure to check their website:

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See why this East Portland neighbor works to reduce the number of wild cats roaming Inner SE Portland‚ and learn about the May 12 “Fur Ball” right here‚

Christy Lee, a certified veterinary assistant, puts a feral kitty cat under anesthesia before it is spayed, at the free Feral Cat Coalition clinic.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
On this Saturday morning, it’s raining (pardon the expression) cats and dogs, as we seek out the confidential location of the spay/neuter clinic operated by the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon.

We’ve written about this unique organization in the past. People who feed stray cats voluntarily participate in this trap-neuter-return program.

Secret clinic locations
We locate the one-day clinic hidden away in an industrial district of Portland, and meet a volunteer coordinator for the program, Carma Crimins, a Woodstock neighborhood resident.

“The goal of the program,” Crimins begins, “is to reduce suffering for existing feral cats, and prevent births and suffering of future generations.”

She leads us in to where the organization’s 24-foot mobile hospital is parked. We learn it is designed specifically for spaying/neutering feral cats, has three separate rooms: A surgery suite with room for three veterinarians to operate simultaneously; a prep area, complete with sink and autoclave; and also an anesthesia room.

One Sunday a month, the mobile hospital operates in Portland. Other weekends, it travels to other communities that sponsor their program.

“The reason we keep the location secret,” explains Crimins, is that we don’t operate a ‘drop-in’ program. We only want to deal with individuals who demonstrate a commitment to do what we request.”

What they don’t want, Crimins added, is for people dropping off cats at the clinic, thinking that, somehow, someone will find the stray cat a good home. “This isn’t an adoption service.”

To trap a cat
The program’s services are specifically for feral cats being fed by caregivers. The caregivers trap the cats, bring them to a clinic, and return the cats to where they are being fed with a commitment to keep feeding the cat on a permanent basis.

“Typically, the cats we see here haven’t ever been touched by humans; and they never will,” clarifies Crimins. “We lend humane, ‘live traps’ to the caregiver, and show how to use them. These traps are simple, and don’t harm either the cats or the people.”

On this day, 96 cats will be seen‚ each of them from the Inner SE Portland area. “In Woodstock, and further east, is an area rich in feral cats,” Crimins tells us. “And, there are a lot of good-hearted people who care for them enough to bring them‚ and take them home again.”

Performing a spay operation in their mobile surgical unit is Marla McGeorge DVM.

In the cat M.A.S.H.
We have about 30 volunteers operating the day-long clinic, in addition to the four vets and four vet technicians. Caregivers bring in the cats inside cages or traps. A blanket is put over the cage to keep the cat warm and reduce anxiety, we’re told.

Then, one by one, they’re taken into a feline version of a Mobile Army Surgical Unit. The mobile hospital gleams of stainless steel and smells antiseptic.

After being anesthetized, the cats are checked over, are spayed or neutered, and receive distemper and rabies shots.

As they sleep, get the full feline “day spa treatment”. They’re flea-combed and sprayed, treated for ear mites and other minor medical conditions, and each has his or her right ear tipped for future identification. Cats that appear to be suffering, as determined by a veterinarian, are tested for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus; all which test positive are euthanized.

Volunteer coordinator Carma Crimins watches as Suzanne Tate helps a spayed kitty recover from her operation.

In the “recovery room”, we see a dozen volunteers, stroking, warming, and watching over cats as they wake up.

As she caresses a drowsy kitty, Crimins tells us she’s been involved with the coalition for five years. “Over the years, I’ve brought in hundreds of cats. Now, I started help other people get their cats in to the clinic.”

No more unwanted cats
Crimins says she’d like to live in a world in which every cat is wanted. “What we’re doing today will eliminate the suffering of hundreds of kittens this year, and prevent thousands of unwanted and homeless kittens down the road.”

No other programs in Portland provide this service, Crimins says. It’s supported by volunteers and donations. “When you donate to the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon, 92 cents of every dollar goes to fulfilling our mission of spaying/neutering, and community education.”

Ninth Annual Furball May 12
One way you can support the organization is by attending their annual “Furball”. This year, it’s on May 12 at the World Forestry Center. This year’s theme is “Night on the Nile”. To donate to the event, to volunteer, or for more information, contact Karen Kraus at

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

If you think you’re keeping your kids safe from child sexual predators by telling them to “stay away from strangers”you’re WRONG! Don’t let your kids become victims. Read this article now‚

The information that Crime Prevention Program Specialist Teri Poppino shares about child molestation is, to many, startling

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Several months ago, we sat in at a special meeting at which Crime Prevention Program Specialist Teri Poppino talked to group of neighbors in northeast Portland about child sexual predators.

“For years, it has been ‘common knowledge’ that typical child molesters are creepy, smelly strangers, who entice kids into their clutches, entreating them with nickel candy,” Poppino began. “But the fact is: A child molester looks like me; or you, or you,” she says as she points to herself and others in the room.

The room fell eerily silent. One mother’s face turned ghostly pale. A father looked stunned as he sat motionless, his mouth agape.

“The truth is that child molesters‚ child sexual predators‚ know the child, perhaps better than do their parents,” the former police officer continued. “Molesters know what clothing, foods, TV shows, video games, and school classes the child enjoys and dislikes‚ more than their mother or father do.”

During her presentations about defending your kids against child sexual predators, Poppino talked frankly. Occasionally, she said, parents will leave‚ they find the information she presents too disturbing to contemplate.

Again, at the East Precinct Commander’s Forum on May 1, Poppino is sharing her message with East Portland neighbors.

Most kids grow out of the “playing doctor” phase of adolescence, Teri Poppino says‚ but sexual predators never do.

Shattering molester misconceptions

It isn’t a life event that turns a “normal” person into a child molester. “Most little kids have ‘played doctor’ when they were young. But soon, the novelty wears off and the typical child loses interest. But, most molesters never grow out of it, and keep playing the ‘game’ with friends, then with other, younger people as they get older,” she tells the group.

Simply teaching kids that all “strangers” are bad, and people whom they know are “good”, is dangerously unsafe, Poppino instructs. “The fact is, a molester can be young or old, male or female, or of any race or religious belief. They are likely to be stable, employed, and respected in the community. They may be looked up to as a community leader. Moreover, they are ‘trusted’ and thus, have easy access to the ‘objects of their affliction’, your children.”

Scary facts better than misinformation
Poppino doesn’t tell groups this kind of information just to scare them, she says‚ but instead, to help them understand that child molesters play a “confidence game”, and learn to play it well. “Molesters don’t want to get caught. They learn to be very good at not getting caught; and they’re helped by ‘stay-away-from-strangers’-types of misinformation.”

Poppino explains why molesting parents are difficult to catch.

Molesting parents are especially difficult to catch and prosecute, she goes on. They look “normal” to other people. They “accidentally” expose themselves to their children while changing clothes or using the bathroom. They may touch their children sexually while tucking them in bed at night.

Then, they tell their children, that “this is what all loving fathers do with their children”, so they don’t tell others. Parental molesters may be so good at manipulating children that the kids never tell, because they love the parent.

Prevention tips
“The very best prevention we have is open communication with our kids,” says Poppino, herself a mother. “Instead of warning them to ‘stay away from strangers’ or scaring them with sex talks when they are too young to understand‚ simply let them know,over and over again, to come confide in you if anyone talks to them, or touches them, in any way that feels odd, yucky, or strange.”

It is easy to “trick” a child into keeping a secret, She adds. “Our children need to know that anytime someone touches them, and then swears them to secrecy; this is not right. Even if the situation seemed fun, this is a secret they must not keep. Get to know any older kids or families who want to spend more time with your children.”

Poppino urges parents to think about people they know who may take a “special interest” in their children. “They may be good, pure souls; and they may not.”

The key isn’t making kids feel uncomfortable around nice people, but making them aware of specific behaviors. “The key is to teach them to watch for inappropriate behaviors and actions.” Constantly remind your kids, she continues, that “secret touching” is never the child’s fault; and they aren’t “bad” if they get tricked into it.

Poppino says to pay attention to individuals who pay a “special interest” in your child and trust your intuition about people in your life.

Many adult molesters target single moms, she explains. “Why? Once they earn the trust of the mother, they have access to their kids. I tell all single moms to never share their personal history, especially if it includes molestation or victimization, with any people they date.”

Finally, Poppino urged parents to “Trust your intuition. If you feel something is not right in your child’s relationship, act on it immediately.”

Up to you
“As you walk away from this training, you will hopefully have an increased sense of awareness. This isn’t information to scare you, but to strengthen you,” Poppino concludes. “If you are like me, you may become hyper-vigilant. This is OK; I assure you, over time, your feelings will normalize.”

What we can’t bring you in this article is the video tapes Poppino uses during her special presentations on this topic. Attendees see, and hear, child predators tell how they approached children and used them. These videos are both chilling — and informative.

To see the complete program on child molestation presented for your group, contact your neighborhood’s Crime Prevention Program Specialist. Also, contact the Portland based, nationally-recognized, Center for Behavioral Intervention at (503) 644-2772.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service.

See who was awarded firefighter and police officer of the year at the 30th edition of this East Portland event, which honors all of Portland’s public safety personnel‚

At the VFW Post #1 Awards Friendship Dinner, Post M.C. Tom Murphy stands with their “Firefighter of the Year”, Portland Fire & Rescue’s John Hill. Captain Marco Benatti presented the award.

By David F. Ashton
Every year, members of outer East Portland’s VFW Post #1 takes time out to celebrate the good work done by local firefighters and police officers.

“This is the 30th year,” the post’s Adjutant, Richard Linstead explained, “that our post has held an awards banquet to honor our dedicated public servants.”

On April 21, at the Friendship Dinner, more than 100 people packed the organization’s banquet hall on SE 122nd Ave. The awards ceremony‚ filled with humorous comments about the recipients‚ began after the assembled group enjoyed a delicious dinner.

Awards Firefighter of the Year
Portland Fire & Rescue Firefighter Specialist John Hill, a Gresham resident, was presented the “Firefighter of the Year” of the year award. Hill serves at Station 24, the marine emergency response center for Portland Fire & Rescue. He’s developed a comprehensive navigation system to help Portland’s fireboats traverse our rivers, even during bad weather.

According to the bureau, Hill is role model — both in his organization and in the community. This firefighter has given more than 800 hours of community service time to support the Barlow football programs.

Last year’s “Police Officer of the Year“, Michael Gallagher, accompanies this year’s award winner, Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Officer Robert Slyter, to the podium. East Precinct’s Lt. Ron Anderson presented the award; he’s accompanied by M.C. Tom Murphy.

Police officer from East Precinct honored
It doesn’t surprise us that Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Officer Robert Slyter was nominated as the “Police Officer of the Year.”

An outer East Portland native, Slyter graduated from David Douglas High School. He’s served as on the Neighborhood Response Team and Crime Reduction Unit‚ and initiated a pilot project for patrolling a portion of NE Sandy Blvd.‚ on foot. (Click here to read our detailed story about the Parkrose Foot Patrol.)

The two award winners, Linstead said, were chosen by the men and women working in their respective bureaus. “We are in debt to the men and women who work around the clock, often putting their lives in danger, to help keep us safe,” he added.

Special thanks to Anita Finn for her photographs.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~East Portland News Service

Led off by Mayor Tom Potter, the parade some people thought would never happen‚ but did‚ was one that everyone enjoyed. In addition to seeing fun photos, learn about the dedicated group of volunteers whose diligent work turned this dream into a reality‚

The first parade of the 2007 Portland Rose Festival is lead by the VFW Post 1442 Honor Guard and by the Grand Marshal, Portland’s Mayor Tom Potter.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As recently as a couple of years ago, no one would have guessed that the first sanctioned event of the Portland Rose Festival’s centennial year would be a parade along 82nd Avenue.

But, against all odds, dedicated volunteers from three neighborhood business districts and six neighborhood associations saw their big dream turn into reality on April 28.

2007 Portland Rose Festival Princesses gather for a group photo before perching on convertibles for their ride up the newly-renamed 82nd Avenue of Roses.

Right on schedule, the First Annual Portland Rose Festival Avenue of Roses Parade started north along 82nd Avenue of Roses‚ led off by Grand Marshall Mayor Tom Potter.

The “rat-ta-tat-tat” of the Madison High School Drum Corps kept the parade moving. Participants included Portland Rose Festival Princesses, Royal Rosarians, and representatives of business districts, neighborhood associations, schools and supporting firms.

SE Portland’s own PEParazzi Squad gets ready to cheerlead along the parade route.

Festivities continued after the parade, with a sidewalk festival hosted by the Montavilla East Tabor Business Assn. and Montavilla Neighborhood Assn. on SE Stark St.

Parade a symbol of change
“When I saw our parade listed on the Portland Rose Festival calendar of events, I said to myself, ‘This is big stuff’,” commented one of the key volunteers, Sandra McDaniel, past chair of Montavilla Neighborhood Association. “So many of us worked so hard, I’m grateful that we were able to create this event.”

Organizing the first parade in the history of 82nd Avenue of Roses, Ken Turner works with two of the parade’s 35 primary volunteers.

As a long-time resident of the area, McDaniel said she was skeptical much could be done to improve the working-class reputation of 82nd Avenue. “But when I heard Ken Turner share his vision at an organizing meeting, I knew he was on to something.”

She said that notion of changing the thoroughfare’s name to “Avenue of Roses” was the turning point that got people to think differently about this strip of outer East Portland.

“It’s catching on. People are excited about it.”

Keeping the parade participants stepping along to a brisk rhythm is Madison High School Drum Corps.

Along with the parade, pride
One volunteer told us of an elderly lady who watched the parade, camera in hand. “I’m taking pictures of this,” she said, “to put in our history, to make sure this is part of the history of Outer Southeast.”

Along the parade route, a neighbor commented, “It’s about time we had something good like this here. People will look at Outer Southeast Portland in a different way now.”

Riding in their very first parade are 2007 Portland Rose Festival Princesses (clockwise, starting from top/left) Chelsea Linn, David Douglas High School; Hong Le, Marshall High School; Audria Shaw, Madison High School and Tiffany Loanzon, Cleveland High School.

Two years in the making
We talked with Ken Turner, president of the 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association‚ the man credited with sparking the area’s turn-around effort‚ about the parade.

“About two years ago,” Turner began, “our group of volunteers was looking for ideas, and perhaps events that would help band together neighborhoods and businesses along the avenue. Along with developing the Avenue of Roses concept‚ including beautification, reducing crime, and giving our area a good identity‚ we came up with the idea of a parade.”

Turner said the idea “got legs” a year ago, and the volunteers filed for the parade permit last fall.

Ruth Hander, chair of Madison South Neighborhood Association, catches a ride with Reid Trumel.

A true grassroots effort
The parade, we learned, was a community-driven and directed event. Turner said, “We, about 35 key volunteers, spent hundreds of hours to make this happen. We did it on our own‚ working against tremendous odds. Our volunteers stayed with it right through to the end‚ actually, right till the beginning of the parade.”

Turner would himself take little credit for the parade’s success. “People talk about how neighbors and businesspeople should work together. The Avenue of Roses parade is an example of volunteers actually doing it. We had folks from three business associations and six neighborhood associations working, side-by-side to realize this event. They all took ownership of producing an event that builds pride in our part of outer East Portland.”

Leading off the procession representing the three participating local business districts is (top) Alema McCrea, Montavilla East Tabor Business Association (passenger in the Buick); followed by (bottom left) Jean Baker, Division/Clinton Streets Business Association; and, (bottom right) Nancy Chapin, Foster Road Business Association.

Nattily dressed in their white suites, the Royal Rosarians greet outer East Portlanders watching the parade.

In addition to the core of organizing volunteers, others pitched in. They gathered volunteers, obtained parade entries, gained permits and helped promote the event by distributing more than 10,000 flyers to neighbors along the route.

On parade day, more than 100 volunteers helped register entries, coordinate staging of the participants and act as “street monitors” along the route. The disbanding of the parade in Montavilla “went flawlessly”, Turner said.

Asian Lion and Dragon Dancers, sponsored by Wong’s Chinese Seafood Grill, delight bystanders as they prance along the parade route.

East Portland Chamber of Commerce president Greg Zuffrea greets all, riding in a spiffy car supplied by Chamber member Gresham Ford, “The dealer with a Heart”.

Parade draws ‘fan mail’
“This is an example of what communities can accomplish when they work together on a common goal,” Turner commented.

For the past few days, Turner said he’s been gratified by the volume of complimentary calls, cards, and e-mails that have come in from spectators.

Johnni Jones, a Montavilla resident and one of the key volunteers, told us she sees real changes happening along the avenue.

“It was such an awesome feeling on Saturday to see the community out along the avenue,” expressed Jones. “And the best part is to see the increasing camaraderie among of business people and neighbors. This effort is making a difference here.”

As an example, Jones notes the new rosebushes planted along 82nd Avenue of Roses and E. Burnside St. “Our avenue is blooming, in more ways than one.”

Local fresh food purveyors — Lents International Farmer’s Market (opening at SE 92nd Ave. and Foster Rd.) and the brand-new Montavilla Farmers Market (opening at 7700 SE Stark St.) — are well represented at the parade.

Contributing sponsors, like Richard Kiley’s Home Run Graphics, help make the Avenue of Roses parade possible. Yes, Gail is driving …

Next year’s parade being planned
“We’ve already started planning for next year already. Our first meeting is coming up in a few days,” recounted Turner. “We’ll take what we’ve learned from this event. We’ll build on the best things, and improve other areas.”

The Burgerville Trolley snakes up the Avenue of Roses, as do fire trucks from Portland Fire & Rescue Station 2 – each entry greeted by cheers from the crowd.

Major Sponsors are Eastport Plaza Shopping Center and Washman, USA.  Other sponsors include Banfield Pet Hospital, SEUL, 82nd Ave of Roses Business Assn.  A supporting grant was received from the City of Portland Business District Grant Program through the Alliance of Portland Neighborhood Assns. (APNBA). Contributing sponsors include Portland Community College, Home Run Graphics, The Support Group, Grace Baptist Church, and Bank of the West.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

A man is mowed down on SE Powell Blvd; the killer car doesn’t even slow down. See why police‚ and the dead man’s family‚ are begging for your help with this case‚

Gail Firestone, mother of the man killed in Saturday night’s hit-and-run on SE Powell Blvd. at 28th Avenue, says the driver will “never have a good night’s sleep until he turns himself in.”

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
After escorting his young daughter home, a man walks north, crossing SE Powell Blvd., about 30 feet east of the crosswalk that runs between the Wendy’s and McDonald’s restaurants. It isn’t late, about 9:20 p.m. on Saturday, April 28‚ and the street is well lit.

A Caucasian male driver is at the wheel of a charcoal gray American-made car, with “spoiler” on the back, rockets westward on Powell heading toward downtown Portland.

“Mister hell-on-wheels” hits 43-year old Michael J. Tucker so hard, the pedestrian is killed on the spot. The impact cracks the car’s windshield, busts out a headlight and part of the grill‚ and leaves car paint on the victim’s body.

Instead of stopping, the driver doesn’t even slow down. Last seen, he’s careening around the corner a block east of Cleveland High School, heading north.

Little information at the scene
This scenario we’ve presented wasn’t caught on tape. Instead, it is based on what little evidence Southeast Precinct Officers and Fatal Investigators from the Portland Police Bureau Traffic Division were able to gather after the deadly accident.

So far, only five witnesses have come forward; none of them say they remember the car’s license plate or any other details.

Investigators, family ask for help
On April 30, Tucker’s family members, accompanied by Traffic Division’s Sgt. Dan Costello, call a press conference at the site where he died.

“This is positively horrendous,” Costello tells us. “I’ve been a traffic supervisor for about two years. This is the first accident where we’ve had very little description on the vehicle and driver. For somebody to kill another person‚ then just continue on‚ makes me angry. We need your help.”

There is a good chance the vehicle is being hidden under a tarp or in a garage, Costello adds.

His mother’s plea
“We’re from Grant’s Pass, where Mike grew up,” begins Tucker’s mother, Gail Firestone, with a quavering voice.

“No one deserves to be struck down, and left lying in the street like an animal. If anyone knows anything about the car that hit him, please help us find the car and driver.

“[His daughter] Sky has another 80 years without her dad. We need to find this guy so he doesn’t do this to someone else.”

The mother of the man killed by the speeding driver shows us a photo Tucker took of himself.

“We need help. We have every faith in these officers. People can try to outrun the law, but they’ll be caught. I have every faith.”

Speaking to the person who killed her son, she concludes, saying, “You’ve got to know what you’ve done‚ you’ll live with it for the rest of your life. There are dozens of people who won’t have closure until you are man enough to come forward and try to explain it or take the consequences. You’ll never have a good nights’ sleep.”

Speaking directly to the driver of the car that killed her son, Firestone says, “Sky has another 80 years without her dad. We need to find this guy so he doesn’t do this to someone else.”

You can help
If you spot a vehicle matching this description, or have any information at all regarding this hit-and-run collision, contact Officer Barry Busse at (503) 823-2216 as soon as possible.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See why this gal tried to ditch a state trooper by careening off the freeway and racing through Lents. And, learn why she couldn’t sweet-talk her way out of this one …

Bad Idea #1: Trying to outrun the police. Try as she might to get away, the driver of this car couldn’t shake an Oregon State Trooper‚ and officers from Portland Police East Precinct.

By David F. Ashton
It was a nice day to be out driving on Saturday, April 28. Maybe that’s why a north Portland woman was out tooling along in outer East Portland, southbound on I-205.

However, her joy-ride was interrupted at noon by the lights and siren of an Oregon State Police (OSP) Trooper. He clocked her nifty sports car 79 mph near the SE Powell Boulevard interchange.

The car exited at SE Foster Road‚ but she didn’t stop. Instead, she led the trooper‚ joined by Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct officers‚ on a 7-minute merry chase.

From SE Foster Rd., she careened north on to SE 92nd Ave., and then did her best to ditch the cops in the ‘hood.

Bad Idea #2: Intentionally smash your vehicle into cop cars during a chase.

Demonstrating her lust for highway drama, this amateur stunt-driver pulled into a driveway and intentionally rammed into OSP and PPB patrol cars. The crunch did little damage to the cop cars.

Finally, the officers were able to box the car in and get it stopped near SE 88th Ave. and Holgate Blvd.

Wanted to “see if she could get away”
So, who was the driver? Police identified her as 46-year-old Suzanne Gillett.

After they let Gillett try on some new jewelry‚ shiny chrome-plated bracelets, she told officers “I just to see if I could get away.”

The good news: no one was injured during the incident.

Gillett was arrested by OSP and lodged in Multnomah County Jail for Felony Attempt to Elude, Reckless Driving, Recklessly Endangering Another Person, and Hit & Run.  She was also cited for Driving While Suspended.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

See the triumphant return of teenagers from Winterhaven School and da Vinci Middle School, after they bested all other teams at the international First Lego League competition, and won the gold‚ er, plastic‚ trophy‚

The triumphant “Pigmice” return to Winterhaven School: Co-coach Kasi Allen Fuller, Nathan Fuller, Morgan Pengelly, Olivia Bolles (a daVinci Middle School student), Keegan Livermore, Flannery Bethel, Hallie Frost and co-coach Greg Banks.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
When the van transporting the team of three girls and three boys, all seventh-graders, pulled up on front of Winterhaven School in Southeast Portland on April 16, the cheers of hundreds of students rang through the neighborhood.

This team, known as “The Pigmice”, first became friends when they all attended third grade together at the now-closed Edwards Elementary.

The student body of Winterhaven School turns out with signs and banners to welcome the Team Pigmice, the First Lego League world champions.

Co-coached by Lewis & Clark College education professor Kasi Allen Fuller and builder Greg Banks, “Pigmice” team members are Winterhaven students Nathan Fuller, Morgan Pengelly, Keegan Livermore, Flannery Bethel, Hallie Frost and daVinci Middle School student Olivia Bolles.

“It’s clear that being long-time friends, instead of just teammates, gave them an advantage,” comments co-coach Greg Banks. “Part of their score is based on how well they work together as a team.”

We learn these young inventors prepared for this competition for four years, partly by learning three computer languages.

Members of the Pigmice seemed genuinely surprised by the grand welcome they received from fellow students and faculty members.

SE Portland’s Pigmice take on the world
Cathy Swider, Oregon Robotics Tournament & Outreach Program administrator, fills us in on the massive scope of the competition won by The Pigmice. 90,000 students from 49 countries participated in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) LEGO League (FLL) season.

Swider tells us, “In Oregon, the Pigmice competed and won the Intel Oregon FLL Qualifying and Championship Tournaments among a field of 359 teams. Then, they advanced to the World Festival where they competed against 94 teams from 22 countries in Atlanta, Georgia April 12 – 14.”

In Atlanta’s Georgia Dome, Swider says, the Pigmice team ran their robot on the “challenge field” to determine their robot’s performance. “The team also met with technical judges who assessed their scientific knowledge.”

Then, the close-knit team made a project presentation, focusing on a nanotechnology solution to the problem of plastics pollution in the Pacific Ocean. Finally the team completed a “teamwork exercise” in view of teamwork judges.

The result: the Pigmice were judged to be the team that scored the highest in all categories and demonstrated gracious professionalism.

“They were awarded the 2007 FIRST LEGO League 1st Place Champion’s Award,” says Swider. “In addition, they will be guests of IBM’s Don Eigler, known as the Father of Nanotechnology. Compliments of IBM, the team will visit the IBM Venture Research Park, to meet with nanotechnology scientists and engineers.”

Students, faculty and family of the Pigmice rush to welcome the returning students.

The winners speak
“Our project presentation went really well,” says Morgan Pengelly. “The judges liked our presentation, so we were one of ten or so teams who were called back. That was really cool. It put us closer to where we were aiming.”

Pengelly continues, “Then, we got the highest score we could get on the ‘table run’. I know other teams did well, but I think we were balanced in every category.”

Asked about the robots, Keegan Livermore volunteers, “We made a robot out of Lego parts and electronic parts. Every robot is allowed an NXT, a little computer that you can program. So you can use the NXT along with light, touch, and rotation sensors to drive motors. The touch sensor, for example, lets the robot ‘feel’ something.”

Importance of winning
We asked the group why they thought bringing home the championship to Oregon is important. Nathan Fuller replies for the group, “I think it has opened up a lot of new doors for Oregon First Lego League. We’re getting publicity.”

More than just basking in the public spotlight, Fuller thoughtfully continues, “We’ll be able to attract more students to this kind of activity. Hopefully, we’ll be having 475 teams competing next year. Hopefully, we’ll increase Oregon’s level of competition, so another team can go and take the World Championship next year.”

As the throng of students surges to meet their world championship team, Pigmice team member Hallie Frost gets a big hug from friends. “I’ve been attacked,” she says, “but in a good way. This is so sweet.”

Why “Pigmice”?

“Pigmice is a game, explains Hallie Frost. When a TV reporter asked, specifically why they chose the name, she adds with a twinkle in her eye,  “Because there are more than one of us. Otherwise, it would be ‘Pigmouse’. In the game, Pigmice are a highly evolved form of sewer rat that lives in the garbage disposal.”

Plastic trophy, golden feelings
Frost proudly shows us their trophy. “This is the trophy that signifies we’re the best team in the world. Yes, it is made entirely of Legos. The feeling right now is ‘wow’.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

The garden created by students and staff at this school is both beautiful and instructional, they say. Read about it right here‚

As part of the dedication of their garden, class by class, students walked the serpentine path to admire their work.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A project‚ a school garden, started last summer‚ has come to fruition at Sacramento School in NE Portland. And it looks like the students enjoy it as much as do the adults.

“We wanted to create an environment that was welcoming to both the students and to members of the community,” explains Paul Crowley, a counselor at the school. “And, we wanted to bring in more science and nature into the educational process.”

Part of the idea, Crowley tells us‚ on the day of the garden’s dedication, April 18‚ is to give students hands-on activities. “We have a computer lab, but we wanted to also have more physical activities to help balance their education.”

Each grade at the school, we’re told, is responsible for one of the beds.

Teaching responsibility
We watch as the students walk among the raised garden beds. Crowley says that each grade level, kindergarten through fifth grade, has the responsibility of caring for one of the garden beds.

“Everybody had a hand in doing it. What makes it work is that everybody is involved in it,” says Crowley.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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